I’ve taken a little longer this time to gather my thoughts – taking my lead from Sid, my former features editor – before delivering my verdict on the second episode of the latest Dr Who.

Alas, I’m still not convinced it is working.

Previous series have hit the ground running and kept sprinting forward. This time around, Dr Who got off to a fairly stumbling start with the first episode and followed it up with a hit and miss (largely miss) romp around Pompeii.

It could be due to the fact that I don’t like it when the Doctor does period pieces, it always seems far too contrived and forced. The Roman era adventure fell into that category, but with the added irritation of being plain daft.

The silliness was layered throughout the programme and clearly the choice of Catherine Tate as David Tennant’s new sidekick has prompted a decision to inject a lot more laughs. The big problem is, they aren’t always funny.

I’m sure cast and crew are having a high old time, but they’ve made the mistake of forgetting about the viewers.

This isn’t a charge you could lay at the team’s feet up to this point. Self-indulgence is always a trap many on TV fall into – from drama through to news (sic) programmes – and it appears the Dr Who team have got themselves well and truly caught.

The Pompeii romp, like the Shakespeare nonsense and the Dickens bore that spoiled previous series, simply didn’t work. It clearly owed a lot to Up Pompeii and the Carry On… films and it is nothing new for Dr Who to heavily reference other TV and films.

But this homage was badly misplaced. At least the Doctor didn’t try and pull off the: “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me,” gag.

Present-day, UK-based episodes can work brilliantly – Blink being an obvious example. However, the Doctor and Donna need to get stuck into some serious space exploration in the next few weeks to win me around.

And if they are going to time travel, then they should go forward and not back.

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3 responses »

  1. Ursula says:

    Paul, I’ll let you into a shameful secret and please don’t tell anyone: I have never watched any Dr Who.

    I Iike his voice (which for some reason is known to me – probably something to do with Radio 4).

    Have I left it too late? Should I just forget that the series ever did and still does exist? Who can I hold responsible for this terrible omission in my education of the ways of the world? Should I send for the doctor?

    U

  2. Paul Groves says:

    Ursula: I wouldn’t class Dr Who as must-see television, even in the previous series.
    It works best as a diverting slice of Saturday evening entertainment and when it is on form the script is spot-on, the direction is tight and the whole thing is pure escapism. I wouldn’t necessarily say you have to watch it, especially as this series has not got off to the best of starts, but then again if you are stuck for something to do early one Saturday evening then it might be worth a shot.
    Better still, see if you can get a cheap, second-hand copy of any of the previous reincarnated series on DVD from eBay or Amazon and let that be your introduction. Or, don’t bother and enjoy your gardening or 1,001 other more interesting and rewarding things instead.

  3. Ursula says:

    Thanks, Paul, for your reassuring words. Trouble with me and TV is that I usually do have 1001 more interesting and rewarding things to do instead. Admittedly Felix tartly noted the other day that, for reasons yet unknown, I currently don’t seem to be able to get enough of old murder mysteries. However, just in case you are wondering whether you talking to a lunatic: I draw the line at “The Professionals”. To think I once was positively enamoured with Martin Shaw (it must have been that perm of his).

    Anyway, as you probably realise there is ONE voice of reason in this household, so, on his return from school this afternoon, I shall ask Felix’s considered opinion on the matter of the good doctor. I just hope, or am I, that he won’t say “Doctor WHO?”

    U

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